Recipe Makeover: Coconut Cream Pie
We fluff up the flavor, deploy an Italian meringue, and re-create a blue-ribbon dessert that won't march your diet into madness.
When it comes to creamy, dreamy coconut pie, never settle for anything less than mile-high. But even when the traditional version comes across so light and fluffy, it's supplying as much as a quarter of your 2,000-calorie daily requirement and 75% of your saturated fat limit. That's a pie too high.
To rein things in, our Test Kitchen used a smart technique of steeping a combo of milk and half-and-half with real coconut and vanilla bean, drawing out richer flavor than you'd get from bottled extracts. The coconut is then strained out, along with most of its calories and saturated fat. A creamy, fluffy Italian meringue and a shower of toasted coconut seal this delectable deal with a top Test Kitchen rating, half the calories, 65% less saturated fat, and flavor even better than the original.
478 calories per serving
32 grams total fat
16 grams saturated fat
Three cups half-and-half
Flavor from a bottled coconut extract
Heavy whipped cream topping
266 calories per serving
11.5 grams total fat
5.7 grams saturated fat
Two parts low-fat milk; one part half-and-half
Flavor from real coconut flakes and vanilla bean
Light, fluffy Italian meringue topping
Perfecting the Italian Meringue
An Italian meringue is a fluffy, stable mixture made by adding boiling sugar syrup—instead of granulated sugar—to whipped egg whites. This heats the egg to a safe temperature. The mixture stands in as a yummy, creamy, lighter replacement for a topping made with whipped cream.
Before beating, make sure both the bowl and egg whites are at room temperature, as chilled egg whites take longer to reach full volume.
The sugar syrup is ready when the candy thermometer reaches 250º.
With the mixer running, carefully and slowly pour the syrup in a thin, steady stream into the egg whites, whipping constantly.
Continue whipping until the meringue is smooth, satiny, and completely cool, and stiff peaks have formed. Spread immediately on pie.